The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), part of the University of London and the UK’s largest veterinary school, has opened a new centre for research into infectious diseases affecting both human and animal health.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the Royal Society called on the UK government to create a National Institute for Infectious Diseases that would integrate research into human and animal disease. The Society said “effective joined-up organisational structures and policies” were needed if the UK were to respond quickly to potential pandemics.

The RVC’s Centre for Emerging, Endemic and Exotic Diseases (CEEED) is housed in a new building at the College’s Hertfordshire campus. Researchers will focus on the prevention, management and eradication of infectious diseases affecting human and animal health as well as endemic diseases of economic and animal welfare relevance. They will study the characteristics and behaviour of complex infectious disease systems by combining expertise in a range of disciplines including epidemiology, immunology, microbiology, welfare and economics.

The RVC already has “a strong record of internationally important research into infectious diseases affecting human and animal health”, the College noted. What CEEED adds to that is “a state-of-the-art physical space where quantative scientists, clinicians and laboratory scientists can work closely together on tackling diseases such as tuberculosis, MRSA and avian influenza”.

With increasing international travel and trade, infectious diseases can travel quickly, pointed out Katharina Stärk, Professor of Veterinary Public Health at the RVC. “In order to be prepared to tackle emerging risks, contributions from multiple disciplines and international collaboration are essential,” she stressed.

The development of the new Centre has been funded by the East of England Development Agency and Higher Education Funding Council Education.